Semi-trucks help keep the world up and running. They move more than 53 million tons of freight per day, transporting over 72 percent of the nation’s goods and materials. These trucks are intricate machines. An array of components and factors can affect their performance for better or for worse.
Though suspension is often a secondary concern, it’s among the most important systems of a heavy-duty truck. It can have a significant impact on performance from a few key perspectives.
1) Providing a Smooth Ride
For one, the suspension system is essential for a smooth ride. With great big truck parts and accessories to keep the suspension in optimal shape, drivers can enjoy a more comfortable ride. That’s particularly important considering the long hours they spend on the road with little relief from the vibrations of the truck and the roughness of the asphalt. Suspension can reduce the impacts of bumps, potholes, and other hazards. In turn, it can help combat fatigue and save drivers a great deal of pain and discomfort.
2) Protecting Cargo
From another angle, suspension that’s in good working condition can help protect cargo. It may prevent excessive bouncing and swaying. As mentioned, it also reduces vibrations. That aids in keeping cargo intact by minimizing the risk of damage. Incessant vibrations and rough roads can take a toll on cargo even if it’s properly packaged and secured. Reducing those hazards combats cargo damage and the resulting expenses for trucking companies and their clients.
3) Handling and Maneuverability
At the same time, suspension directly affects the handling and maneuverability of a semi-truck. Properly tuned suspension can aid in maintaining traction between the tires and the road. That improves stability during braking, acceleration, and in curves. Improved handling is particularly important when hauling heavy loads. It can prevent skidding, sliding, and loss of control among other problems.
Suspension systems also affect braking. Effective suspension helps to maintain proper weight distribution among a truck’s wheels for improved stopping power. Even weight distribution is crucial for effective braking. It can reduce stopping distances to an extent even under heavy loads and less-than-ideal road conditions.
4) Preserving Other Components
Additionally, suspension systems can have significant effects on other components of a truck. Suspension that’s in good condition and properly maintained reduces wear and tear on an array of parts, including the tires, axles, and frame. All the previously mentioned bumps and vibrations can take a major toll on those parts, but the suspension system absorbs much of the impact. That prevents premature wear and can extend the life of the affected components.
5) Improved Fuel Efficiency
Since effective suspension systems help trucks to ride more smoothly, they can also improve fuel efficiency. Suspension that’s working properly helps to maintain a consistent ride height, which may reduce drag. As noted, suspension can foster weight distribution to prevent unnecessary strain on a truck’s engine and transmission. All those factors can contribute to reduced fuel consumption and better efficiency.
Different Types of Suspension
Different types of suspension systems can provide various benefits of their own. For example, air suspension often makes for a smoother ride. It can automatically make more precise adjustments in response to changing loads and other factors. Leaf spring systems, on the other hand, may offer more durability and longevity. They may not ride as smoothly as air suspension, but they may not wear out as quickly, either.
Improving a Truck’s Performance With Well-Maintained Suspension
For semi-trucks, suspension systems can have a significant impact on performance. They provide greater comfort for drivers and can help to protect expensive cargo. They can also affect handling, braking, maintenance costs, and fuel efficiency. Properly maintained suspension systems can have a positive effect on all those factors while ignoring routine maintenance and repairs can have a negative impact.